MADISON (WKOW) -- It's one of the most anticipated final seasons of any television show in history.
The sci-fi serial "Lost" has captivated audiences with it's exotic locale and mysterious plot. But, it's also become an internet sensation. So how has the show kept and cultivated an audience, on-line?
For one, the twists and turns unfolding in the final season of lost are a source of mystery and excitement to the fans.
But, the secret to the success of the show, is clear as a bell according to Jonathon Gray, an expert at the UW on pop culture and contemporary television.
"You've got so many people on line now that lost just spread like wildfire for people talking about it."
He says Lost was perfectly timed and suited to capitalize on internet buzz and DVR technology.
"So much of Lost depends on people being able to pause things and go back and watch it again and hash it out with people and say 'what happened there? what is the smoke monster? and lets pause this' and the internet allows for a group to get together and do forensics on the show."
"Lost" was the most expensive pilot episode ABC had ever aired at between $10-14 million. It was a big gamble that Gray says paid off.
"It's not just important for a network to attract your eyes it's also important that they create a brand and when you have a tend pole program that gets the buzz lost has, that does great things for ABC."
The buzz comes from speculation about the mysterious plot. There are dozens upon dozens of web sites dedicated to deciphering lost. And the network added plenty to the mix.
"They did a good job of alternate storytelling between seasons." says Gray, "alternate reality games where you could find out more and engage with different characters."
But Gray says captivating an audience on-line isn't easy.
"A season or two after lost began you had a bunch of shows come out like the 9 and heroes and others and I'm blanking on the names largely because they died so quickly."
In fact, Gray says there's no guarantee ABC can pull it off again.
Part of the problem is much of the on-line work by writers was strictly a labor of love.
"Right now it counts as promotion, which means they don't get paid for it." says Gray, "I think the writing on the wall is, sadly, that this might have been a one off and we might be waiting may years before we see something similar."
But while it lasts, the fans, and ABC are enjoying the ride.
The ratings for the first episode of the final season garnered 12 million viewers.